Rose Lavelle #16 of the United States celebrates her goal...

Rose Lavelle #16 of the United States celebrates her goal in the first half with teammates Alex Morgan #13 and Casey Krueger #20 during a Women's International Friendly against Paraguay at TQL Stadium on September 21, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Credit: Getty Images/Emilee Chinn

This is big. It’s bigger than women’s soccer. It’s bigger than women’s sports.

The landmark labor deal that has been struck between the U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer teams to close their contentious pay gap sends a message to every young girl and young boy out there, whether they play sports or not.

The message is: Girls are not inferior. They deserve to grow up and have their accomplishments rewarded and celebrated on the same level that boys do, whether those accomplishments be on the soccer field or in private industry.

And when they don’t, it pays to speak up. Again and again.

The deal, which was announced Wednesday morning, is the culmination of a six-year battle between the U.S. women’s team and U.S. Soccer Federation. That battle included a high-profile lawsuit that was settled earlier this year. The USSF said Wednesday that the agreement makes the United States the first country to achieve equal pay for its men’s and women’s soccer teams.

“This is a statement for women everywhere,” former Olympian Abby Wambach told People. “Another woman looking at an article, or hearing or reading this can think to themselves, ‘Wait, am I getting paid the same as my male counterparts?' ”

It’s not only women asking that. More men are realizing that they aren’t comfortable being a part of a system where they have an automatic advantage.

The U.S. men stand to make a pretty big concession as they will potentially take home less money in World Cup bonuses than they would have previously, especially if they advance far into the tournament.

Under the terms of the agreement, World Cup prize money will be pooled between the U.S. men's and women’s teams and split equally among all players. That’s a major victory as the men’s World Cup winner in 2018, France, raked in $38 million, while the U.S. women’s team only took home $4 million for their win in 2019.

"They said equal pay for men and women was not possible, but that did not stop us and we went ahead and achieved it," men’s national team defender Walker Zimmerman, a member of the players’ association leadership group, told The Associated Press. "We hope this will awaken others to the need for this type of change.”

Both women’s basketball and hockey players are beginning to draw more support from their male brethren.

Despite the fact the women’s gold-medal hockey game between Canada and the United States on NBC was the second-most-watched hockey game in the U.S. since 2019, there has never been a women’s professional hockey league in North America that pays its players a living wage. That could change in 2023 as the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association announced that they are starting their own six-team league where the minimum salary is $35,000.

The NHL’s involvement in the league is unclear, but the PWHPA website lists 10 NHL teams, including the Rangers, as club partners. The Rangers also hosted a PWHPA game at Madison Square Garden last year.

Even with recent changes to the WNBA salary cap, only three players — Diana Taurasi, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart — will make the WNBA supermax of $228,094. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert recently said top players in the league can make up to $650,000 in compensation for a season. Six players in the NBA made more than $41 million this past season.

This pay disparity is what led Brittney Griner and other top players to play in Russia, a fact that has taken on a scary significance with Griner’s long detention in Russia for supposedly having vaping cartridges in her luggage.

NBA players are beginning to question on social media why women players have to go overseas. Kevin Durant, who regularly tweets about the WNBA, recently paid more than $3 million to fund a website covering women’s sports and bought a stake in Gotham FC, a women’s professional soccer team in New Jersey.

“I think we are really in the midst of an incredible turning point in women’s sports,” U.S. national team forward Megan Rapinoe said on the "Today" show. “I think we’re all going to look back on this moment with incredible pride. If you are not looking back on this and what’s happening in women’s sports, you are sleeping on the whole thing.”


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months